Don’t let technology replace the human element on our floors
Have you downsized your floor team members in the face of ever-increasing technology? Even more importantly, are you still running your casino floor the same way you did 20 years ago, but with fewer people and more gizmos and gadgets?
Are you using self-serve kiosks to issue comps, print drawing tickets and check point balances?
All good questions. And they point to a serious issue that’s cropping up more and more in casinos across the world. That is, we are losing the human element on our slot floors. The floor team member is becoming extinct. And there goes our ability to positively interact with our best guests, our slot players, and develop the type of relationship with them that will ensure their loyalty and a greater share of their gaming wallet.
So what to do, what to do? Well, consider the role of the slot ambassador. The ambassador may just be the diplomatic solution you need to ramp up the human element on your slot floor and keep your players firmly glued to their seats.
If you already have a working player development function as part of your casino marketing efforts, then you surely have the usual loyalty club team members, a select group of casino hosts, possibly even an executive host or two, and the technology you need to allow those hosts to manage their relationships with your best players. But what about everyone else? What about those people playing on your floor right now who are not members of your club? Or who do not play enough to warrant an assigned host? Or just plain fell through your casino marketing cracks?
Welcome to the concept of the slot ambassador. The ambassador is the bridge between your loyalty club team members and your player development hosts. Unlike a host who works across all four of the critical player development strategies (acquisition, retention, growth and reactivation), the ambassador’s main role is the acquisition of new players into your loyalty club and the retention of your existing players via a service function out on the slot floor. The primary functions of a slot ambassador are (1) to identify and recruit potentially valuable slot players on your floor for membership in your loyalty club (and your very valuable player database) and (2) to host lower and mid-level players out on the floor and improve their gaming experience at your property.
Ambassadors come in all shapes and sizes. Some casinos have dedicated ambassadors who do nothing else. Others combine ambassador duties with other roles, such as slot floor attendants and technicians, loyalty club reps, even supervisory and management team members. But at its core, the ambassador is responsible for growing your database by signing up new players in your loyalty club and retaining your existing members by continually selling them on the benefits of using their card and hosting them with superior service skills out on the floor. And in this ever-evolving world of faceless, nameless technology, well, that just isn’t such a bad thing.
Let’s look back at earlier technology. Since most casinos are now at 100% TITO, we’ve seen lower morale, less teamwork and lowered productivity among slot team members. The primary reason is the reduction in tip income brought about by the loss of vital guest-team member interactions that goes along with the advent of the TITO methodology. Another contributing factor is the loss of fellow workers who have fallen victim to downsizing due to the efficiencies that TITO brings with it. Now I am not suggesting that we staff our floors as fully as we did before TITO, bill validators and the like. After all, we have to pay for all that technology somehow. But let’s face it; computers, printers and kiosks aren’t very good at sympathizing with a player who has lost, or celebrating with one who has just won! We must put more effort into getting properly trained and motivated team members back out into our gaming areas where they can interact with players and further our marketing and revenue goals.
Once again, the ambassador is the solution. Develop the position, acquire or identify an appropriate number of team members, train them in superior service skills, basic player development concepts, loyalty club benefits and sales skills, set “new player” acquisition and “existing player” retention goals, and then turn them loose and measure the results. You should see your new member acquisitions increase, your defection rate decrease, and your club members’ ADT start a measurable and significant climb ever upward.
So put some thought into this critical and rarely seen role on your casino floor. Should you develop and train stand-alone slot ambassador positions? Train existing slot team members to play a “dual” role now that they have more time due to the advent of TITO and other technological efficiencies? Or should just about everyone else who works your floor, from the cocktail waitresses to the security officers, be trained in ambassador skills so as to become salespersons for your slot floor experience?
Whatever solution you choose, get moving and start developing a more human (and sales-oriented) slot floor environment through the development and execution of a slot ambassador program. It is probably the missing link in your player development efforts and just may be the last frontier in truly integrating the human component of how we operate our slot floors with the technological revolution we have embraced.